Greens Creek exceeds high expectations
COVID-19 response keeps workers healthy, silver output high North of 60 Mining News – July 10, 2020
Last updated 9/26/2020 at 2:59pm
Hecla Mining Company July 10 said silver production at its Greens Creek silver mine exceeded expectations during the first half of 2020, due to the higher grade ore mined there.
The Southeast Alaska operation produced 5.53 million ounces of silver during the first six months of this year, a 20% increase over the 4.61 million oz produced during the first half of 2019.
During the three months ending June 30, Greens Creek produced 2.75 million oz of silver, a 16% increase over the 2.37 million oz during the period of 2019, and 13,104 oz of gold, which is slightly lower than the 13,257 oz produced during the second quarter of last year.
The mill processed an average of 2,366 tons of ore per day during the second quarter, which is about 3% higher than the 2,301 tons per day during the same period of 2019.
This strong production is a testament to a quick response that helped protect the workforce from the potential spread of the coronavirus and ensured steady production at the underground operation during the second quarter.
Early on during the COVID-19 outbreak, a 14‑day quarantine was mandated for all visitors to Admiralty Island, where the mine is located. With the addition of strict testing protocols, Greens Creek has reduced this quarantine period to seven days. This is expected to reduce the cost associated with protecting the workforce as well as reducing workforce stress.
Thanks to the solid performance at Greens Creek, Hecla reported increases in all the metals it produces, except for gold, from its five North American mines – Greens Creek, Lucky Friday (Idaho), San Sebastian (Mexico), Casa Berardi (Quebec), and Nevada Operations.
Combined these five operations produced 3.4 million oz of silver, a 13% increase over the 3.02 million oz during the second quarter of 2019; 69,982 oz of gold, a 1% decrease from 60,768 oz last year; 17,856 pounds of zinc, a 34% increase over the 12,315 lb last year; and 8,978 lb of lead, a 63% jump from the second quarter of 2019.
These increases are despite temporary COVID-19-related shutdowns at Casa Berardi and San Sebastian.
"Our quick actions at the beginning of the pandemic minimized impact on our operations and finances, so production and cash flow generation were strong this quarter," said Hecla Mining President and CEO Phillips Baker, Jr. "Because U.S. mines are essential businesses and the other two mines returned to production in the quarter, we increased production and internally generated cash flow. This performance has allowed us to substantially reduce our revolving line of credit, which we expect to be fully repaid by year end. Hecla produces one third of all the silver in the U.S., giving investors unique exposure to what we believe will be higher silver prices in the future."